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We don't use fake parts, says SAA after mid-air 'jolt'

Oct 11 2019 07:00
Marelise van der Merwe

SAA has denied that the airline's maintenance division, SAA Technical, uses fake parts when servicing aircraft, include Mango or any other airline.

This follows a Sunday Times story titled 'Jet scare highlights criminals in the SAA workshop'.

The story linked a "nosedive" on a Mango flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town, on September 2, to a defective part in the airline's Boeing 737. The newspaper reported that the part's service could not be determined "with certainty", and suggested that a criminal syndicate may be at play.

This was denied by SAA on Thursday. 

'Like a pothole'

According to a statement by the SAA board, the flight in question experienced "technical difficulties" that had a "limited impact" on passengers. The statement described the incident as a "minor jolt, akin to driving through a pothole".

The flight was obliged to turn back and the incident was reported to SACAA.

SAA confirmed that a stabiliser trim motor failed during the flight's climb to its planned cruise altitude. The motor helps with slight adjustments to keep the aircraft stabilised. 

But the airline "categorically" denied that that it was a suspect part and that the SAAT "did not and does not use fake parts when servicing aircraft belonging to Mango Airlines or any other airline it services".

According to SAA, the aircraft component that failed was legitimately procured from the original equipment manufacturer in August, and failed after 96 flights.

SAAT is audited, inclusive of site inspections, by independent global organisations, the airline added.

"We wish to assure customers that all components and parts are procured from approved suppliers and all supporting documentation complies with South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) requirements on components," the statement added.

It further denied that there was any known crime syndicate that had infiltrated the airline's technical team.

"Whilst any acts of criminality cannot be ruled out, it is untrue that there is a known international crime syndicate that has infiltrated SAA or SAAT that is responsible for tender manipulation and/or corruption at SAA or SAAT.

"There is no link, direct or indirect, between the aircraft incident involving the Mango flight reported on and matters that are currently under investigation at SAAT."

SAA previously told Fin24 it had reason to believe that "an enterprise with transnational networks" was at work in the organisation.

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